Each year the students in Amanda Rupe’s class at William Byrd Middle School complete a community service project. Last year they prepared a dinner for Ronald McDonald House to serve to families of children in treatment at Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
This year they held a bake sale at the Vinton Kroger to benefit 4-year-old Remi Dudley, who is undergoing treatments for Aplastic Anemia at Duke University. Remi is the daughter of former WBMS teacher Heather Dudley, who now teaches at Andrew Lewis in Salem.
The faculty at WBMS baked the brownies, cookies, cakes, and other goodies that the students sold at Kroger on April 28.
Remi is an inpatient at Duke University with her mother staying with her, while her father Mike and sister Kiele have an apartment nearby.
On their Facebook page “Super Remi-Fighting Aplastic Anemia,” Heather Dudley tells the family’s story thus far. On February 20 of this year, she noticed that Remi had bruises that were “out of the ordinary.”
“In two weeks’ time, we met with multiple doctors and nurses; an ER visit later and Remi had become a pin cushion,” said Dudley. “Two weeks felt like a year.”
On March 3, “Remi sat for two hours while they tried to find a vein for an IV. Five people later and 10 sticks later my baby had a bone marrow aspiration, then a platelet transfusion.”
On March 5, the medical team determined that Remi did not have Leukemia, but Aplastic Anemia. She was in the hospital from March 5-7 because she could no longer fight off run-of-the-mill infections and needed a blood transfusion. The family waited to find out what caused the disease, to find out when she could have visitors, and when her body would be able to fight infection again. They waited to find out if her 7-year-old sister Kiele was a bone marrow match. Mercifully, it turns out Kiele is a match. Mike Dudley has been his daughter’s white cell “grans” donor.
“We visit doctors; she has blood draws; we watch numbers; we Lysol everything; we quarantine everyone, we wear masks in public,” continued Dudley. “We adjust, but most of all we pray!
“Through all of this, my child has shown me true faith in our one true super hero– God,” said Dudley. “She has witnessed to the nursing staff on multiple occasions. She has shared that she can be still during all the blood draws because she has God in her heart and she decided to share the story of Jesus on the cross and how he shed his blood for us, while she was getting a blood transfusion. My child is wise beyond her years and the Lord knows she has much to share with the world. She has a purpose. She is His child! She is our Super Remi.”
Dudley explains that Aplastic Anemia is a condition that occurs when the body stops producing enough new blood cells, red, white and platelets, also known as bone marrow failure. A rare and serious condition, Aplastic Anemia can develop at any age. It may occur suddenly, or it can occur slowly and get worse over a long period of time. Treatment for Aplastic Anemia may include medications, blood transfusions, or a stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant.
Remi’s bone marrow transplant was completed on April 25. Dudley says that her daughter has more great hours than bad, but that it is extremely difficult to witness your child in such pain.
Various groups are selling T-shirts, bracelets and other items to raise funds for the family. A GoFundMe account has been established at www.gofundme.com/team-super-remi. Andrew Lewis Middle School will be sponsoring a Bone Marrow Day on May 5 and a benefit basketball game.